Archive - Aug 2011

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August 31st

Guided Interaction: Rethinking the Query-Result Paradigm

Just got done with my presentation at VLDB 2011's Challenges and Visions Track! The paper is available here, as are the talk slides. Abstract and browsable slides are below!

Abstract:Decades of research, coupled with continuous increases in computing power, have enabled highly efficient execution of queries on large databases. For many databases, far more time is spent by users formulating queries than by the system evaluating them. It stands to reason that, looking at the overall query experience we provide users, we should pay attention to how we can assist users in the holistic process of obtaining the information they desire from the database, and not just the constituent activity of efficiently generating results given a complete precise query.

In this talk, we examine the conventional query-result paradigm employed by databases and demonstrate challenges encountered when following this paradigm. We recognize that the process of query specification itself is a major stumbling block. With current computational abilities, we are at a point where we can make use of the data in the database to aid in this process. To this end, we propose a new paradigm, guided interaction, to solve the noted challenges, by using interaction to guide the user through the query formulation, query execution and result examination processes.

There are significant engineering challenges to constructing the system we envision, and the technological building blocks to address these challenges exist today.

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